FXhome's new "Pay What You Want" charging system might sound at first like the company has lost its marbles, but this is in fact a very carefully thought out ethical way of paying for software. Traditionally HitFilm Express, the main subject of the scheme, has been free. But by throwing in a few extra incentives, along with charitable support, the company hopes to kill two birds with one stone. Support some very deserving good causes in a meaningful way, while also helping development of what is normally free software.
Currently the scheme will be donating funds to the WWF and the Australia Emergency Bushfire Fund. Both of these are intertwined, with devastating fires breaking out across the country, destroying not only human lives, but devastating the wildlife population. FXhome told us that this is only the start, and that other causes will be supported as the scheme moves forward. The larger the contribution customers make, the more FXhome will donate.
The free software is still here
It's important to note that nobody is being forced to pay for HitFilm Express. If you really can't afford to donate anything, the software will always be available for free. But if you can spare some money you'll not only be contributing to a good cause, you'll also be helping the development of the software itself. Existing customers can also contribute if they are able, too.
Those who want to contribute are being offered some pretty compelling reasons to do so. If you contribute a minimum of USD $9 you get the Starter Pack, which includes a new, more professional looking dark mode interface, new edit tools including text, split screen masking, PiP, vertical video, and action cam crop. New colour tools include exposure, vibrance, shadows & highlights, custom grey, colour phase, channel mixer, and 16-bit colour. Starter Pack users also gain new VFX including shatter, 3D extrusion, fire, blood spray, and animated lasers.
With contributions of USD $19.99 or more, customers will get everything in the starter pack plus edit repair pack with denoise, grain removal, and rolling shutter correction. Also included is a LUT pack with LUTs and grading transfer, a beautify pack with bilateral blur and pro skin retouch.
The top level for customers who contribute between USD $39.95 to $99, they get everything in the previous two packs plus a composite toolkit pack with wire removal, projector, clone, and channel swapper, composite pro-keying, motion audio visual pack with atomic particles, audio spectrum, and audio waveform. Added VFX includes a neon lights pack with Lightsword Ultra (2-Point Auto), Lightsword Ultra (4-Point Manual), Lightsword Ultra (Glow Only) and Neon Path.
There's also a VFX lighting pack with anamorphic lens flares, gleam, flicker, and auto volumetrics.
New features across the board
Indeed while the above additional packs for voluntary contributors is fascinating enough, HitFilm Express 14 itself has received a number of new enhancements that benefits all users of the software. Video textures for 3D models has been added. Two examples of this ability could be if you wanted to animate a bullet hole appearing in a 3D object, or cracking glass for instance.
Exporting can now be performed directly from the timeline and comps using the Export Panel. Exports will follow the in and out points on the timeline.
Additional text controls have been added. There are now options for text case transformations as well as being able to change the character spacing, horizontal or vertical scale, and baseline shift.
New shortcuts have been added, such as a new composite button. A new masking feature adds automation, for instance if as user double clicks on the rectangle or ellipse tools, a centred mask is automatically placed to fill the centre of the screen. Different masks are assigned different colours so they are easy to recognise and follow.
Double clicking on an effect will apply it to the selected layer. You can also now drop 2D effects directly onto layers in the viewer. Certain effects such as chroma key and light flares can be dropped on a specific point, or select a specific colour to key by.
Imerge Pro files can now be opened within the software. If the Imerge file is edited, the HitFilm Express will automatically update to reflect the changes.
HitFilm Pro is quickly improving and is one of the best kept open secrets on the market. HitFilm Express however is showing the way for 'freeware', giving people who might not otherwise have the opportunity the chance to learn the ins and outs of creating convincing looking VFX and compositing.
A special shoutout to whoever came up with the smiley face on the contribition slider!